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A nation of snitches - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal

Dec. 6th, 2007

09:34 am - A nation of snitches

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House vote on illegal images sweeps in Wi-Fi, Web sites

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill saying that anyone offering an open Wi-Fi connection to the public must report illegal images including “obscene” cartoons and drawings–or face fines of up to $300,000.

That broad definition would cover individuals, coffee shops, libraries, hotels, and even some government agencies that provide Wi-Fi. It also sweeps in social-networking sites, domain name registrars, Internet service providers, and e-mail service providers such as Hotmail and Gmail, and it may require that the complete contents of the user’s account be retained for subsequent police inspection.

Wednesday’s vote caught Internet companies by surprise: the Democratic leadership rushed the SAFE Act to the floor under a procedure that’s supposed to be reserved for noncontroversial legislation. It was introduced October 10, but has never received even one hearing or committee vote. In addition, the legislation approved this week has changed substantially since the earlier version and was not available for public review.

Not one Democrat opposed the SAFE Act. Two Republicans did: Rep. Ron Paul, the libertarian-leaning presidential candidate from Texas, and Rep. Paul Broun from Georgia.

Emphasis added. Any wagers on how Hillary and Obama will vote when this hits the Senate?

Original: craschworks - comments

Comments:

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From:girlvinyl
Date:December 6th, 2007 04:39 pm (UTC)
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Of course the democrats love this. It "protects the children" and protects people's feelings from being hurt.

This is going to be a HUGE commercial opportunity for companies like websafe and vericept. I should write a content filtering application!
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[User Picture]
From:fishsupreme
Date:December 6th, 2007 04:56 pm (UTC)
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So, if I'm running a hotspot, I can identify and report these images... how? I don't have a piece of software that can look at an image and tell me if it's an obscene cartoon.

I'll probably have to think about this and make a post on my security blog Perimeter Grid about it.

Edited at 2007-12-06 04:57 pm (UTC)
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From:vyus
Date:December 6th, 2007 06:11 pm (UTC)
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check into the official definition of "open wi-fi." perhaps some loophole allows some kind of anon/no-fee registration to sidestep it.

interestingly enough, if it is an "open" wi-fi, users don't register, and that means even if you tag obscene content, you've got no idea who was using it anyway.

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[User Picture]
From:fishsupreme
Date:December 6th, 2007 06:19 pm (UTC)
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Looking at the actual text of the bill, it actually mandates reporting if you know about the illegal activity. This is still bad (forcing private citizens to snitch on each other is not a good thing), but not as bad (as it doesn't require you to monitor traffic, just to report what you find if you do monitor.) In addition, it provides an exception for when the illegal material is difficult to detect due to being "commingled or interspersed" with legal material, as it would be in any web session.

Overall, this will affect ISPs a lot more than people with open hotspots. It is, however, somewhat troubling in that it tries to criminalize artificial depictions of child pornography defined in a vague way, which tends to lead to selective prosecution. What age are anime characters "supposed" to be? I think you'd get a very wide range of guesses.
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From:vyus
Date:December 6th, 2007 06:23 pm (UTC)
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i went and read the news blurb after i posted the comment. agree on all counts.
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